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Christmas in Pine Valley

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Marissa Tasker was lovingly wakened by a hand sneaking under her short silky nightgown and caressing the warm skin it found there. An instant smile spread over her lips, the way it was supposed to when one was in love, when one was with the right person. And Bianca Montgomery was definitely the right person for her. A pair of lips helped assuring her of that fact as they planted kisses along her jawline. Her smile became a giggle. She turned around to face her lover and to strategically place some of her own kissing - smack on Bianca's lips.
The brunette smiled into the kiss, it almost seemed to her that these days her lips rarely did anything but smile. With Marissa, the kids and them having moved into their dream house, the kids getting along better than most siblings, Kendall being happy, her mom... well, her mom still wasn't back together with Jack but time would probably find a solution to that problem as Bianca knew they still loved each other. At least, her mom was healthy and back to almost normal, and almost normal was as far as Erica Kane came on any given day, anyways.
Thoughts of anyone else in their lives who might be happy or otherwise vanished as Marissa's lips became more insistent and her hands began to work their way around clothes to touch skin. Bianca hummed and pulled her girlfriend on top of her.
"The kids will probably be up soon," Marissa warned but continued her manual exploration of Bianca's body. Her right hand had just found a naked breast when there was a soft knock on the door.
"Nooo," the redhead moaned softly and Bianca giggled.
"You knew that would happen," she admonished her girlfriend who in turn bit lightly into a delicious earlobe.
"Ouch," the brunette laughed and pushed Marissa who rolled onto her back. She dared a look at the alarm clock on her bedside table which read 5.45 a.m.
"It's the middle of the night," she declared as she put her pillow up against the headboard of their bed and sat against it.
"It's Christmas morning," Marissa looked at her lover who mirrored her actions. There was another faint knock and when Bianca nodded at her she called out:
"Come in." One fair head popped around the door and AJs smiling face appeared.
"Merry Christmas," he proclaimed. "Can we open presents now?"
"Why don't we have normal kids who just go downstairs and rip their presents open?" Marissa asked Bianca but smiled happily.
"Because our brood is well-behaved," Bianca gave back. "Are you alone, AJ?" She asked the boy who then shook his head. He pushed open the door and there stood the two brunettes who always made Bianca's heart jump in happiness, her daughters. Just like AJ they were still in their jammies, Gabby clutched her favorite stuffed animal to her chest.
"Come here and give Bianca and me Christmas hugs!" Marissa demanded and the kids bounded across the room, happy faces and proclamations of "Happy Christmas." Gabby ran to her mom's side and raised her short arms to be lifted onto the bed, while her sister, Miranda, and AJ jumped onto it with ease and exuberance. They both hugged Marissa enthusiastically and did the same with Bianca after she had hugged Gabby and gave her over to the redhead.
The little girl settled on Marissa's lap and pressed her sleepy face into her chest. Her sister had woken her far too early and she wasn't quite sure if that was okay. Of course, Miranda said something about presents, so, there was possibly a reward in this somewhere but she would still rather be in bed and asleep. Marissa hugged her to her, caressing her hair and the little girl closed her eyes again.
"Don't fall asleep, Gabby, we have to open our presents," AJs voice dripped with excitement, his face alive with an exuberant smile. Marissa laughed.
"Can we go down now?" Miranda was just as excited as her best friend and birthday twin, and possibly soon her brother. In truth, he already felt like a brother to her but their mother's weren't yet married... she hoped they would get married, though. She wanted to be a real family with Marissa and AJ, she wanted them all to be together forever. Miranda smiled at her mother's girlfriend and Marissa answered her in kind.
"Why don't you go ahead and you can all open one present, and Marissa and I will be down in a few minutes."
"Okay," Miranda agreed and bounced off the bed, followed closely by AJ who helped Gabby off the bed and the threesome made its way out of the room and down to the huge pile of Christmas presents under a lavishly decorated Christmas tree.
They waited until the door closed behind their kids before they once again kissed lingeringly.
"Have I wished you a Merry Christmas yet?" Marissa asked when they parted.
"No, you were too eager to get into my pants, as always," Bianca mockingly replied.
"Are you complaining?" A ginger eyebrow rose in challenge.
"No, I'm complimenting." They laughed and kissed once more before they got up and went into the bathroom where they followed their morning rituals.

When they came down the stairs ten minutes later, they were wearing matching robes over their night wear. The kids were all looking at what they had unpacked. In Gabby's case it was a new doll, a present from her aunt as Bianca knew, AJ was already busy with a puzzle, and Miranda had an open book in her lap. She looked up just as Bianca and Marissa made it to the foot of the stairs, arm in arm. Bianca was holding her laptop under one arm which meant they would be conference calling Reese and Maggie this morning. The little girl's smile got even brighter, she would have a Christmas morning with all her parents.
"Should I make coffee?" Bianca offered but Marissa shook her head.
"I'll make hot chocolate for all of us. Go set up the laptop." She gave Bianca another kiss and went into the kitchen. Bianca went to join the kids. She set up her laptop on a special place on a small coffee table they had placed there just for this purpose. This year, both Maggie and Reese had agreed to do a conference Christmas call. For AJs sake Bianca would have wished that JR could have had that priviledge as well but prison policy didn't comply. JR was serving a life-sentence for the murder of his father who had been the victim of JRs shooting at the mansion in September the year before. It had been horrible and AJ still suffered from the aftermath, he was teased at school, and he had nightmares of his father trying to kidnap him. So far, he had refused to visit his dad.
Bianca looked over her shoulder at the blond-haired boy. He seemed quite content at the moment but she knew as well as Marissa that he had grown quieter after what happened. She hoped he would at some point be his former self again. But then maybe he had grown-up a little and would from now on be more reserved. Bianca was just glad that his whole family was trying to be there for the boy, and not just his. The brunette smiled when she thought of her mother taking the time to talk to AJ whenever she was around, to take interest in what he liked to do. The same with Kendall and Zack and the boys. Everybody loved AJ and everybody went out of their way to make sure he knew that.
"Okay, I think we can reach mommie Reese...," she opened skype and made the connection. A short time later, her ex-wife's face appeared on the screen. And only a moment later another window opened and Maggie smiled from it.
"Hey, guys. Merry Christmas," she greeted and everybody answered in kind. The kids came to sit infront of the screen, even AJ left his perch at his puzzle to talk to the two women.
"Hewo, Maggie," Gabby touched the screen.
"Hey, little one. What you got there?" Gabby pressed her new doll to the screen, successfully blocking out the camera. Miranda took the doll and held it up so Maggie and Reese could see it.
"That's a beautiful doll, honey," Reese said and Gabby just grinned. She took the toy back from her sister and sat down with it. Meanwhile, Miranda showed her new book to the women. Maggie was especially interested in this as it was one of her presents for Miranda.
"It's an adventure story with a girl hero," Miranda explained.
"Wow, that's wonderful. Does she have superpowers?" Maggie asked.
"No, she's just a normal girl but she is super-clever." Miranda smiled. The heroine of her book was also a brunette like herself, and had a best friend, a blond boy her age. Maggie had been delighted when she found the book and she knew Miranda would like it. She had been right.
"Hey, where is Marissa?" Reese asked suddenly and both women looked around what they could see of the living room.
"Kitchen duty," Bianca replied smiling.
"I heard that," came from Marissa who just entered the room with a tray of cups of hot chocolate. She put it down on the couch table and went around to wish Bianca's exes a merry Christmas. Everyone grabbed a cup with hot chocolate, Bianca pulling Gabby onto her lap, having her sip from her own cup and making sure she didn't burn her mouth.
On Maggie's screen, a young woman appeared behind her. She was a slender African-American, Maggie's girlfriend, Geraldine. She put her arms around the brunette and gave her a kiss on the cheek.
"Morning, darling. Hey, you guys, happy Christmas," she sounded sleepy and didn't seem to want to linger. She just waited for his girlfriend's friends to answer before she turned away again. "It's too early, I'm going back to bed." She left the screen but they could hear her say: "Tell them."
"Tell us what?" Bianca demanded. Maggie smiled and rolled her eyes. Then she put her right hand infront of the camera. There was a ring on her finger, all new and shiny diamonds.
The ensuing chatter and congratulations filled the whole room at casa de Montgomery/Tasker and it took some time to die down again. When the kids settled down with Marissa who gave out more presents for them to open, Bianca found a little time to talk to her exes.
"So, what's the plan for today? Just the two of you and the kids or big family celebration at your mom's?" asked Maggie.
"Actually, it's going to be big family celebration here. Marissa insisted. She wanted to have the whole family together, well, the whole family minus David. Of course, that might not be much of a respite since mom and Krystal will still be in the same room together." Both Maggie and Reese made a face. "Yeah." Bianca nodded but smiled. She had talked to her mother and Erica had promised to be polite - whatever that meant. Marissa had talked to Krystal and her mother had promised the same thing. Bianca wasn't going to worry about it, not until the women used the cutlery as weapons.
"Have you decided on a date yet, for the wedding?" Bianca asked Maggie but she shook her head.
"Not yet. Geri wants it to be as soon as possible. I am all for a June wedding." Bianca smiled; that was so like Maggie, she was a romantic at heart. "But no matter when, I want you guys to come. I want Miranda to be my flower girl, and Gabby, too, if you think it's okay."
"I think that's a wonderful idea," Bianca assented. She looked over her shoulder at Marissa, thinking her own thoughts about weddings and flower girls.
"By the way..." Reese started saying and Bianca turned her attention back to the laptop screen. "... if it's okay, I would like to call sometime next week. I would like for the girls to meet the new woman in my life." Her ex-wife hadn't said much so far, she seemed nervous and now Bianca knew why. As far as the brunette knew Reese hadn't dated anyone since the divorce.
"A new woman?" she said quietly.
"That's great, Reese," Maggie piped up, giving Bianca a little time to collect her thoughts and feelings on this revelation. Reese thanked Maggie and then looked back at her ex.
"That's really wonderful, Reese. I'm happy for you. And sure, we set up a time when it's convenient for you and..."
"Her name is Fabienne. We met at a conference and since then... I have cut down my hours, and she hers and we are trying to have something resembling a home life." Reese smiled shyly. She knew that the words wouldn't be easy for Bianca to hear, after all, her work had been the main reason for their divorce. But Bianca was happy with Marissa now and she was sure, Bianca wouldn't begrudge her her own happiness.
"Well, that sounds great. I can't wait to meet her," Bianca smiled. Gabby came over to her and plopped down into her lap. She showed her mom a new sweater she had gotten and Bianca helped her try it on.
"Sooo... what about you and Marissa?" Maggie asked quietly and held up the hand with her ring again. "When are you going to pop the question?" Bianca blushed. That was exactly the question she had feared would pop up for the last two months. She had planned the moment of her proposal minutely and...
"That's a very good question," Marissa mused, looking over at Bianca who turned back to the screen with murder in her eyes, looking at Maggie.
"Oopsi-daisy." Her ex smiled apologetically.
"Maybe Bianca's just waiting for you to ask, Marissa," Reese suggested and as a reward earned the same look. She couldn't explain to herself why Bianca would be reluctant to want to marry Marissa, they were obviously very much in love and she knew that Bianca was rather conservative and all in favor of tying knots.
"Oh, alright." Marissa got up from her place next to her son on the floor, the kids looked quitely on as she sat down next to Bianca and took her hand in her own.
"Marry me?" she asked nonchalantly and gave her lover a lopsided grin. The look in Bianca's eyes seeemd conflicted. She seemed happy but at the same time horrified. That was a strange combination. "Bianca?"
"Of course, I want to marry you." The kids cheered, so did Maggie. Reese smiled but it seemed bitter-sweet even after one and a half years after the divorce. Marissa meanwhile leaned forward and kissed Bianca soundly. Miranda and AJ joined the group infront of the laptop and hugged their mommies. Before the ruckus had even died down, Bianca stood up and went to the Christmas tree. She grabbed around the tree where she had hung a very special gift. She now took it and brought it over to her girlfriend. She sat down again.
"I wanted to give you this tonight when we were alone, you know, sitting in front of the fire after our moms had a catfight on our front lawn in good old Pine Valley tradition," she smiled sheepishly and gave Marissa the white box. When they looked at each other, she saw tears in Marissa's eyes. The redhead obviously knew what was in the box and what Bianca had planned to do this very evening.
"Don't worry, I am sure we can still have that catfight," Bianca joked and Marissa laughed. She hugged her lover tightly, or as tightly as it was possible with their kids all around them. She kissed her. It was a more passionate kiss then she would usually have gone for infront of the kids but the occasion called for it.
Miranda and AJ giggled. Maggie whistled softly.
They broke the kiss and Marissa opened the box, it held another smaller one, obviously a ring-box. She opened it and stared. It was a beautiful platinum band that held a single emerald, it was the most beautiful piece of jewellery she had ever seen. She looked at Bianca, they kissed again. Marissa tugged the ring free off the box and gave it to her lover. She held out her hand and Bianca slipped it onto her finger.
"Awwww," they heard from Maggie. The newly-engaged couple blushed, they felt a little exposed.
"I think it is time for you to join your fiancée, Mags," Bianca remarked.
"And I think... you're right. But congratulations, you guys. I'll be calling in a couple of days... to hear all about that catfight, though. Bye and merry Christmas." They said their goodbyes to Maggie and Reese who took the hint and said she had to be somewhere else shortly. She seemed happy for her ex-wife if a little whistful.
"I'll sent you an email about next week, Binks. Take care, all of you."
"Will do, bye, Reese."
"Au revoir, maman," Miranda said and Gabby leaned forward and gave the screen a kiss.
"I love you, my darlings," Reese smiled happily and then her window went black.

It was hours later when Bianca looked over at Marissa who was reading softly to Miranda. The little girl tried to keep her eyes open but had a hard time with it. Marissa seemed to feel Biancas eyes on her and looked up to see a similar picture, only her son had already fallen asleep in her lover's arms. The women smiled at each other over the heads of their children. Gabby had given up even sooner than AJ, having rolled herself into a ball in the big armchair with both her new doll and the stuffed animal she loved so much. Bianca had tucked her into a blanket.
She felt her own eyelids droop but didn't want to give into the pull. Like her oldest daughter she wanted this moment to last, the happiness to linger. It had been a perfect morning, and maybe the proposal had been meant to happen among their loved ones - and Maggie and Reese. Bianca smiled. It was really strange how lesbians managed to stay in touch with their exes, how she herself had managed to stay in touch or regain touch in Reese's case. But she was glad, she was the girl's mother, too. There just couldn't be enough people who loved her two babies and she knew that both Maggie and Reese liked Marissa. Well, how could they not?
Bianca's eyes lingered on her lover as she held Miranda close to her, her low voice soothing her. Marissa seemed once again at ease. After the terrible events surrounding her ex-husband, after the trial, after everything she's been through... she was strong, yes, but only Bianca saw her collapse, only Bianca was allowed to hold her when she woke from a nightmare that was similar to AJs nightmares: JR coming back. That would always be her biggest fear, it was Bianca's fear also because she knew what the man was capable of. She had excused him after he pushed her from that balcony, wanting to think that he had been too mad to understand... but that night he shot his father... it could have been anybody. He had said it in the courtroom himself, it could have been anybody.
Bianca closed her eyes for a moment, erasing the thoughts of JR Chandler and replaced them with happier ones. She felt the small body of AJ pressed against hers and this was something to be happy about. It had taken the little boy some time to trust Bianca, a year back he would insist his mother tucked him in. He never disliked her but he felt that his mother was the only constant left in his life, he didn't want to trust someone else who might abandon him again. Bianca had understood and built the trust one day at a time. Now he was like a son to her, as the girls were like daughters to Marissa. And they soon would be, they had talked about it. Marissa would adopt the girls after they got married, that was always the plan. AJ... he would always be JRs son. JR would never give him up without a fight not even from the two by four prison cell he now inhabited.
It seemed that JR Chandler still had a hold on their lives.
Bianca shook her head and opened her eyes, looking back at Marissa and Miranda who was now fully asleep, her head softly cushioned on the redhead's chest. Marissa smiled at her.
"What are you thinking about?" She asked.
"Our family," Bianca answered.
"The best possible thoughts." Marissa lifted her hand and looked at her ring again. "It's so beautiful."
"Then it suits you," the brunette said with a yawn. Her eyes drooped again and this time they stayed closed. She just fell asleep in the middle of a conversation. But it was okay, Marissa would always be there to talk to her, they would just continue this later.

"Hey, sleepyhead," she heard the voice that seemed to come out of her dream but somehow didn't. Then she had the sensation of lips pressed against her own, it was nice as it was definitely not a dream. It was life that kissed her awake.
"Hmmmmm...." Bianca opened her eyes and looked at her lover leaning over her.
"You awake?"
"Not quite, I think another kiss might help," and Marissa, always such a helpful person, complied with the request. Her lips lingered, opened slightly, nipped at Bianca's . They took their time exploring and when they finally parted, breathless but smilling, there was no denying that Bianca was awake. She looked around for spectators but couldn't find any.
"Where are the kids?"
"Upstairs playing, Gabby is napping. She was so exhausted." They laughed.
"Well, she wasn't the only one. How long have I been out?"
"A couple of hours. I was just about to start dinner and remembered that you offered to help..." Marissa leaned down onto Bianca's chest, smiling beseechingly, and stole another kiss.
"I offered? Really?"
"I'm sure of it." They giggled again. Happiness was really the best kind of drug. Bianca took Marissa's hand and looked at the ring she had placed there earlier.
"I'm sorry I kinda ruined your plans for the proposal," Marissa said in a low voice. She knew that Bianca wasn't mad but she also didn't want to have any regrets about this moment.
"I'm not. I'm glad the kids were there. Now it's a family moment and makes for a far better story: how my exes ruined my plans for the perfect wedding proposal..." They laughed together.
"It just shows that they still care about you and want you to be happy."
"And I'm happy about it and for them. Did you hear that Reese is dating?" Bianca asked but Marissa shook her head. "She'll call sometime next week to introduce her. From her name I would say she is French."
"Good for Reese but I hope this woman can keep up with her busy schedule," Marissa pondered.
"Reese said that they met through work and that they are both trying to cut down their hours." The redhead nodded, she hoped it worked out for them. It wasn't really her concern how much Reese Williams worked and she didn't want to judge her but she knew how much pain Reese's workload had caused Bianca and the girls. It was a challenge to any relationship but especially when there were children in the picture.
Marissa looked at her engagement ring thinking about her own work. She did work a lot as did Bianca, they were busy women but hopefully they would always remember that their family must come first.
"If I ever neglect you and the kids because of my work please tell me," she said.
"I will and ask you to do the same if my schedule should take over our life." They kissed in way of a promise.
"Are we going to tell everybody tonight? About our engagement?"
"Of course, or... do you want to keep it a secret?" Marissa shook her head.
"No, I just wanted to ask. I don't think I ever want to take this off again." She laughed and Bianca pulled her into her arms.
"I think you will have to, at least for when you're cooking dinner." They kissed.
"Yeah, and we should really get going. I don't wanna cook dinner in my night gown."
"No? Too bad." Bianca slipped her hand inside Marissa's robe and caressed her naked thigh. Marissa giggled and then kissed Bianca passionately. Their tongues began a sensuous dance and they both moaned into the sensation. Several minutes passed and left them breathless and quite unwilling to concentrate on anything as profane as cooking dinner.
"We should really get going," Marissa repeated and stood from the couch. Bianca pouted, missing the warmth, the heat, the love that radiated from Marissa. The redhead held her hand out to her lover and Bianca let her pull her up.
"Alright, alright. Let's get dressed and then cook dinner for our family. Just one thing..." Marissa stopped in her tracks and looked at Bianca who promptly kissed her once more.
"And another..." Marissa smiled, expecting another kiss but Bianca continued:
"... we will tell them all together before dinner. About our engagement, I mean. I know Kendall will go nuts and mom... but I think it might be a good idea to have mom and Krystal know at the same time. Maybe they'll realize that they are part of the same family now. What do you think?"
"That's an excellent idea. One thing, though..." This time it was Bianca looking at Marissa and Marissa kissing her. They giggled and then made their way up the stairs to get dressed.

It was late, almost midnight, and considering how little they had slept the night before Bianca was amazed that they were still awake. Especially Marissa who - as far as her lover knew - hadn't even napped when she and the kids had. Right now they were just too comfortable to move and go upstairs. They were huddled on the couch, facing a crackling fire in the fireplace, Marissa was lying in her arms. They were incredibly comfortable.
"I think they were happy about the news, don't you?" Marissa asked about the dozenth time since their mothers had left - without having had the envisioned catfight.
"Yes, sweetheart, I think they were very happy for us," Bianca reassured the redhead.
"But do you think they were also happy for themselves?" Marissa questioned further. Bianca contemplated this. Her mother seemed happy enough but that didn't mean much considering that she was quite the actress. Had there been anything amiss in her demeanor? Bianca didn't think so. She knew her mother liked Marissa, the only problem she could have with their marriage was Marissa's connection to Krystal. But Bianca didn't think that this dampened her happiness for her daughter.
"I think mom was happy about it. And Krystal seemed completely over the moon about the news."
"That's because she gets the most amazing woman in the world as her daughter-in-law," Marissa stated and Bianca laughed.
"Most amazing woman in the world? I think you need a reality check, sweetheart." Still, Bianca felt flattered by the compliment.
"Nuh-uh, you are just that. You are... my love." Marissa turned her head and kissed Bianca on her jaw.
"That I am and you are mine," Bianca returned the kiss but to Marissa's lips and they let their passion flare up for a moment before they resumed their earlier position.
"Kendall went totally nuts," Marissa said laughingly after a moment and Bianca joined her.
"Yeah, that's Kendall. I bet she whipped her cell phone out even before Zack had started the car to tell Greenlee."
"I hope everybody will be as happy about the news as she is," Marissa said. "This town could use some good news, our friends and our families sure could." Bianca nodded.
"I will call uncle Jack tomorrow and tell him. I bet he'll be thrilled and I'll make him promise that he'll come to the wedding." Marissa nodded in consent. They lay there for a couple of minutes, thinking of who else to tell - or who not to tell - and the kind of happiness that life still held in store for them.
Marissa turned in Bianca's arms and kissed her lover again. Their mouths came together hungrily, Marissa slipped a hand around her partner's neck to bring her even closer, Bianca pulled the rest of their bodies together. Their kisses grew more heated, their hands now joined the fun and caressed and explored to their liking. When they parted it was for some much needed air and Marissa whispered:
"I need to take you to bed. Right. Now." So, they got up and went upstairs. And they made love. And they felt at peace, for that was what Christmas was for.